The IBJJF European Championship 2023 will take place from January 23rd to 29th and the end of the week will bring the divisions that most people are eager to preview, the adult black belts. There is plenty to pay attention to leading up to that in the teen green belt divisions, the juvenile blue and purple belt divisions, and the adult brown belt divisions if you’re interested in seeing the next generation of elite grapplers making their way up the rankings. Regardless, the adult black belt divisions is generally where the most attention is paid, as it brings together all of the best grapplers from around Europe to compete for a chance at the podium
IBJJF European Championship 2023 Preview
The returning champion in this division is Thalison Soares and the most likely outcome is that he defends his title successfully. The only other person from the podium last year who will be returning is Welerson Goncalves, and there’s a pretty good chance that he meets Soares in the final once again.
Out of all thirteen men competing at this weightclass, only one of them stood on the podium last time around and that was Huthayfah Penney who took a bronze medal in 2022. The division really is wide open and although there will likely be some attention on Penney and Dream Art black belt Diego ‘Pato’ Oliveira, any of the competitors here could win gold.
Sam McNally made waves at ADCC 2022 when he took out Garry Tonon in the opening round, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can have the same effect here. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him make it to the semi-final, but from that point onward he’ll probably be facing competitors like Alex Sodre and Fabricio Andrey and will have a much tougher time beating them to gold.
The Lightweight division is another that’s really hard to call in this preview, as there’s several big names in competing here at the IBJJF European Championship 2023. Marcelo Fausto and Marcio Andre both reached the podium last year but neither man was able to win gold, while Max Lindblad and Ariel Tabak both have a great shot at winning as well.
Tainan Dalpra is the returning champion here and given that he’s looked virtually unstoppable since receiving his black belt, he has the best chance of winning here. Espen Mathiesen is another returning champion who has moved up in weight since winning gold at Lightweight last year, but he has a tough opening round matchup against Bradley Hill before getting anywhere near Dalpra’s throne.
Sean Coates is returning here for another attempt after getting a bronze medal last year, and he has a fairly good chance of winning gold if he can get past a few key names. Tarik Hopstock is always a tricky match for anyone and Matheus Spirandeli has been good form, including a submission win over Coates last year.
This is quite possibly the most stacked division of the tournament, with three returning champions from last year present. Adam Wardzinski seeks to defend his title while last year’s Super-Heavyweight champion Fellipe Andrew moves down in weight, and Bruno Lima moves up in weight since his victory last year at Medium-Heavyweight. There are tough matches everywhere leading up to the final though with Rider Zuchi and Devhonte Johnson both competing too.
Kaynan Duarte is the clear favourite at Super-Heavyweight, although no match is ever easy. While he won’t exactly breeze through anyone, it’s hard to imagine any of his opposition in the division being able to stop him. He’s also a strong favourite to win gold in the absolute division as well.
ADCC veteran Mason Fowler is the surprise entry at Ultra-Heavyweight and he stands a good chance of coming away with a gold medal. It’ll certainly be fun to see how he matches up with a lot of competitors who will no doubt outweigh him in the ultra-heavyweight division though.
While this might not be a particularly big division, there’s plenty of top talent in the lightest women’s weightclass. The favourite to win here is one of Art of Jiu-Jitsu‘s young prodigies, Jessa Khan, but she has some tough opposition before she takes home a medal. She’s the first black belt to come from their kids program and she only has to win three matches to win gold. The biggest obstacle in her way is likely to be ATOS black belt Thais Felipe.
With only six competitors in the division, each woman has a short path to gold at Light-Featherweight. The clear favourite here is Mayssa Bastos, but things are never that simple when it comes to combat sports. She will have strong opposition from Rose-Marie el Sharouni and Melqui Galvao Jiu-Jitsu representative Brenda Larissa.
Anna Rodrigues stands out as the likely winner here but in reality, the Featherweight division is wide open. There’s several grapplers here who might not be as well-known as Rodrigues but are more than capable of winning gold here, like Sophia Dalpra, Ashley Bendle, and Zofia Szawernowska.
This is where the women’s divisions start to get a bit bigger in our IBJJF European Championship 2023 preview, but picking finalists is actually a little easier. The final of the Lightweight division is most likely going to be contested between ATOS veteran Luiza Monteiro and Checkmat’s Nathalie Ribeiro, and that is going to be a close match.
It’s tough to count out Elisabeth Clay in just about any competition she enters, and she has a habit of submitting everyone she can get her hands on. She’ll likely have her toughest time of the week if she crosses paths with top Dream Art competitor Thalyta Silva however.
This is where the women’s divisions start to thin out again, with only four competitors in total. While each woman is guaranteed a medal, the battle for gold will be no less fierce than anywhere else. Maria Malyjasiak and Amy Campo are set to meet in the opening round, and it’s likely that whoever wins that match will also win the final. With her form throughout 2022 earning her ‘Breakthrough Female Grappler of The Year’, Campo just about has the edge.
Another small division with just four competitors, gold at Heavyweight really could go to anyone. Alliance black belt Elizabeth Mitrovic might seem like the favourite on paper, but this is an incredibly even division all round.
This division is a straight final, and Gabrieli Pessanha has been unstoppable since being promoted to black belt so she’s a safe bet to win this match too. It would also be considered something of an upset if any women were able to stop Pessanha from winning the absolute division as well.
The full brackets for the IBJJF European Championship 2023, including those for each division in this preview, are available here.